2024 01 312014-01-31-1

WAN Awards Practice of the Year Mecanoo on the challenges and rewards of social housing design

31.01.2024 - Publications

Mecanoo has a highly multidisciplinary staff of creative professionals from 25 countries. The judging team praised its beautiful craftsmanship, clean lines and artistry of form. Of Mecanoo’s Villa BW, a 2023 gold award winner in the House of the Year category, the panel said: “It was a real pleasure to judge this delightful, beautifully designed and considered project”.

The practice also gained accolades for Kaohsiung Social Housing, a 2023 gold award winner in the Affordable Housing category and Amstel Design District, a 2023 gold award winner in the Future Projects – Multi-Use category. We spoke to Partner Architect, Nuno Fontarra, (right image, second from left) about the firm’s multiple awards triumph.

Q: What does it mean to Mecanoo to win four WAN Awards?
A: It holds profound meaning for us. Personally, it's a testament to the dedication and creativity of our team at Mecanoo. Professionally, it reinforces our commitment to innovative, visionary and imaginative architecture. The WAN awards, with their international recognition, validate the impact of our work on a global scale.

Q: What in your view are the benefits of winning a WAN Award?
A: The benefits of winning WAN awards are multi-faceted. Beyond the prestige and industry acknowledgement, these awards provide a platform to showcase our diverse portfolio to a wider audience. They open doors to new opportunities, collaborations and partnerships, helping us push the boundaries of architectural innovation.

Q: What were the challenges involved in your winning projects?
A: Designing social housing comes with a unique set of challenges. In the Kaohsiung project, we were confronted with the task of creating not just physical structures but fostering a sense of community and inclusivity. Balancing functionality, aesthetics and the socio-economic context posed challenges that required thoughtful solutions. Navigating regulations and ensuring affordability without compromising quality demanded a holistic approach.

Q: Is there a particular aspect of your projects that you are most proud of?
A: Looking at our broader housing portfolio, I take pride in the diversity of solutions we've offered to different housing challenges. From innovative design concepts to addressing specific community needs, each project is a testament to our commitment to providing not just shelter but meaningful, well-designed living spaces. Our ability to adapt and tailor designs to varying contexts and demographics is a source of pride for our team.

Q: What are you working on next?
A: As we celebrate our current successes, we are thrilled to provide a sneak peek into one of our highly anticipated projects—the National History Museum in Abu Dhabi. While details are still under wraps, this project reflects our commitment to pushing the boundaries of architectural innovation. We aim to create a space that not only preserves and showcases the rich history of the region but also captivates visitors with a ground-breaking and culturally resonant design.

Q: Will you be entering the WAN awards next year?
A: Certainly! We view the WAN awards as a valuable stage to exhibit our ongoing dedication to excellence. The participation experience and the acknowledgement received inspire our motivation to consistently evolve and contribute significantly to the architectural panorama.

Full interview, here

If you would like to discuss a press enquiry reach out to us at pr@mecanoo.nl